A bill aiming to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors passed a subcommittee of South Carolina lawmakers last week.

According to WCNC, the bill, filed by Rep. Leon Howard (D-Richland) and Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington), is supported by parents Sean and Heidi Cripe.

The Cripes’ 16-year-old son, Davis, died in 2017 from heart problems caused by drinking too much caffeine.

Officials said at the time that Davis Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald’s and an energy drink in the two hours before his heart fell out of rhythm at Spring Hill High School near Chapin on April 26.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said parents need to know that while a soda or a cup of coffee is OK, large amounts of caffeine can be deadly.

Cripe’s father said he hopes the teen’s death will save other lives by showing the dangers of excessive caffeine.

“He loved life. He lived it loud,” Sean Cripe told WIS. “He had drank an energy drink before class and he had gotten sick really quick. Within a matter of minutes, he had lost his life.”

Heidi Cripe hopes the energy drink ban can protect other kids.

“It’ll be huge. Not only for our son Davis but knowing that here on out other kids in South Carolina will be protected,” she said.

The bill would make it unlawful for a person to sell, furnish, give or distribute an energy drink to a minor under the age of 18. Anyone who violates this would be fined at least $50.

The bill did receive some resistance from health care professionals who believe lawmakers need to take a closer look at the science before making a decision.

“Fatal caffeine overdose from energy drink ingestion is impossible,” said Dr. Ashley Roberts, a toxicologist and the Senior Vice President for the Food & Nutrition Group at Intertek. Roberts said the ingredients found in energy drinks are also used in products such as baby formula.

The Cripes are sharing their journey to ban energy drink sales to minors in a Facebook group.

“So many people say, ‘It won’t happen to me,’ or, ‘I’ve been drinking them and it hasn’t affected me.’ I’m telling you and we are proof that it can happen at anytime to anyone. And the problem is you are fine, until you aren’t fine and then it’s too late. There are extreme, dangerous amounts of caffeine in these drinks, but the additional herbal ingredients are also causing the problems. They are unregulated and there are thousands of people going to the hospital every year because of their effects. On of the worst parts is that most of this goes unreported to the FDA or anyone so the destruction just continues year after year,” Sean Cripe posted in the group.

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